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Thu 4 Oct 2007 10:55 AM

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Saudi to set up five new airports

Kingdom investing $5.3bn to develop new airports, studying operation bids from five short-listed firms.

Saudi Arabia plans to establish five new airports throughout the kingdom, a senior aviation official in the country has said.

Abdullah Al-Ruhaimy, president of the kingdom's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said the country was investing 20 billion Saudi riyals ($5.3 billion) in new projects, reported Arab News today.

Saudi Arabia has 27 airports including three international ones in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with efforts underway to establish an international airport in Madinah within four years. The government has so far spent nearly 60 billion riyals on airports.

Ruhaimy was speaking to reporters on Wednesday after receiving offers from five short-listed companies who are bidding for a contract to operate the kingdom's three international airports.

He said the company which wins the bid to operate the airports would be chosen on a more technical than financial basis, with the contract likely to be awarded on November 21.

"The GACA will study the offers until November 10 and assess the operation features of each company before making a decision," he said.

Global bids

The five short-listed companies are from Singapore, the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany and France; all have submitted their bids and the contract winner will start work early next year and continue until December 2013.

The authority has already finalised plans for the development of King Abdul Aziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, Ruhaimy said adding the plan would be implemented shortly.

"We are currently working on improving the condition of existing passenger lounges at KAIA and this will be completed within the next few months," he added.

Crown Prince Sultan earlier this year signed a 902.91 million riyal ($241 million) contract with Al Mabani Company to develop and upgrade KAIA's aviation facilities. The contract covers expansion of the airport's tarmac and runways in order to increase its annual capacity to 80 million passengers.

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